Your Ultimate Reykjavík Travel Itinerary, From Floating Massages To Northern Lights Boat Trips

Team ELLE
·6-min read
Photo credit: The Retreat
Photo credit: The Retreat

From ELLE

Although we might not be able to travel right now due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there's no reason why we can't spend hours on end satisfying our wanderlust by planning our next trip when lockdown restrictions lift. First on our list? Iceland.

Home to stunning waterfalls, cinematic mountain-scapes and the ultimate next level spa experience - the Blue Lagoon - we're seriously feeling Reykjavík for our next Pinterest board-worthy holiday.

Not sure where to start between the geysers and the traditional seafood? Consider this your ultimate itinerary for seeing the best sights, eating the most delicious food and enjoying the best massages in Reykjavík in just six days...


Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Days 1 - 3

After landing at Reykjavík airport, grab yourself a hire car (our tip: pay more for a heftier vehicle - the Icelandic weather can get seriously snowy) and drive the 40 minutes to Reykjavík city centre.

Check into an AirBnb apartment in one of the traditional corrugated iron houses before heading out for a festive walk through the city centre. Small enough to walk end to end in an hour or so, take your time dropping into the indie coffee houses, local wool outlets and artisan bakeries. If you're looking for the best cinnamon bun in the the city (who isn't?), Braud & Co. is a must-visit.

Meander your way slowly downhill towards the coastline via the architecturally stunning Harpa concert hall. Stop in for a symphony performance or simply stare at the impressive glass structure.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

Depending on the time of year, the days in Iceland can be extremely short, or in fact, the total opposite. If a festive snowy trip is what you're after then October and November or February to March are ideal and bring enough daylight hours to have a good explore before hunkering down with a pot of tea. It's worth noting that booze is expensive in Iceland so get ready to go sober or splurge.

It's not a trip to Iceland without trying to see the Northern Lights. Work your way towards the docks and pick up one of Reykjavík's iconic gourmet offerings on the way. Yep, we're talking about hot dogs. Prepare to queue for about 15 minutes for what's been dubbed as 'the best hotdog in Iceland' at Baejarins beztu. We promise you won't regret the wait and you'll appreciate the fuel once you get to your next destination - a boat trip to see the Northern Lights.

Kicking off at 9pm this three hour boat trip takes you out to the depths of the Norwegian Sea. Don one of the provided snowsuits and get to the top deck for the best chance of spotting the natural phenomenon. With temperatures dropping well below freezing, keep warm with a measure of Iceland's take on schnapps, Brennivín, from the cafe inside.

Spend your third day outside of the city with a road trip to the wealth of waterfalls including the second highest one in Iceland, Glymur, just a short drive (and a two hour hike) from the city centre.

Wrap up a day of outdoor adventuring with a drive to The Retreat at the famous Blue Lagoon and check in for the most restful few days ever.

Photo credit: Loop Images
Photo credit: Loop Images

Days 4 - 6

One of the two hotels at the Insta-famous Blue Lagoon, The Retreat combines luxury architecture, award-winning food and a decadent spa experience for the ultimate 'bouji' escape.

Indulge in a glass of champagne on arrival whilst gawping at the naturally blue hot springs surrounding the glass-panelled hotel. The views continue in the chic minimalist suites complete with floor-to-ceiling windows and balconies that immerse you in the volcanic landscape. Trust us, it's a view you'll want to wake up to.

Photo credit: The Retreat
Photo credit: The Retreat

If you didn't manage to spot the elusive Northern Lights on the boat trip then fear not, because the Retreat hotel staff will call you if they appear at any point during your stay. Throw on the Icelandic wool ponchos provided in your room and head out to see one of the wonders of the world while standing among the steaming lagoons.

Photo credit: The Retreat
Photo credit: The Retreat
Photo credit: The Retreat
Photo credit: The Retreat

Speaking of which, while staying at The Retreat you have access to the public Blue Lagoon areas included in the hotel rate. But with an expansive private lagoon course that snakes around the hotel and includes bar service that brings champagne to you in the hot steaming pools, we can't imagine you'll be leaving to join the masses any time soon.

Complete your ultimate spa experience inside the hotel's separate indoor spa area where a multi-step full body treatment awaits. Based on a trio of local minerals and nutrients, the indulgent Ritual body treatment uses silica, algae and minerals to nourish and soften your skin from head-to-toe. Wander into the spacious sanctuary of indoor chambers in the spa and start the treatment with the guidance of the kind and helpful staff. No booking or extra cost required.

Photo credit: The Retreat
Photo credit: The Retreat

Still not fully zen? Treat yourself to one of The Retreat's iconic in-water massages. Yes, really. Float away (literally) as your limbs are massaged one by one while you float on a blanket in the lagoon and lose yourself in the starry skies of Iceland. Think of it like the best massage you've ever had but you happen to be in a warm bath with a real life galaxy above you. Relaxed doesn't do it justice.

Photo credit: The Retreat
Photo credit: The Retreat

If you're loving the relaxation but missing a little adventure then fear not because there's plenty to get involved with. Whether you're embarking on the morning guided hikes across the solid lava surroundings and delving to the depths of the hotel for a wine tasting in the wine cave, or exploring the seemingly never-ending spa rooms that span everything from thoughtful rain relaxation rooms, to a chill out zone that centres around a rock sculpture with a single drop of water falling from the ceiling, there's something new to discover around each winding corner.

Round off your Icelandic adventure by eating your way through the tasting menu at the Retreat's decadent but modern in-house restaurant, Moss. Ask for a table with a view of the lagoon if you're having lunch and treat yourself to a glass of the exceptional Riesling, accurately described as smelling like 'butter popcorn'. Squeeze in one last dip in the lagoon before heading back to the airport and planning your return visit, ASAP.

The Retreat at Blue Lagoon costs £1,029 per night including an à la carte breakfast.

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